November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes melittus, commonly referred to as diabetes, is a metabolic disorder where blood sugar levels are high over a prolonged period of time. Type I diabetes is often referred to as “juvenile diabetes” or “insulin dependent diabetes” as it usually occurs in young people. In type I diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, which is a hormone that is released in digestion to normalize blood sugar levels. This type of diabetes must be managed with insulin injections.
     Type II diabetes, referred to as “adult-onset”, is not insulin dependent and is on the rise as the main causes are excessive body weight and not enough exercise. A common affliction in many age groups. People are developing “adult onset” diabetes at younger ages due to carrying excess body weight and a sedentary lifestyle. Type II diabetes is the fastest growing disease in Canada with 60,000 cases reported yearly. (health Canada stats) If not controlled, diabetes leads to health issues in many areas of the body. Heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, reduced blood flow to extremities causing amputations and eye damage are just a few. There is an easy to navigate quiz on the Diabetes Canada web-site that will determine your risk level for developing this disease. Take the quiz then learn how to reduce your risk.
     Type II diabetes can be controlled through healthy eating and regular activity.  If your doctor has told you your blood sugar levels are high, there is much you can do to reduce them and prevent diabetes, even if there is a genetic component. All food that we consume is broken down to glucose or blood sugar, which we use as fuel for all activity. If we are not active and using the glucose present in the body, the body will release insulin to help control the blood sugar levels. When we overeat, on a regular basis, the glucose levels rise and the body simply cannot release enough insulin to bring them down. Insulin resistance can occur over time and diabetes develops.
     Simply walking briskly for 30 minutes every day can help control blood sugar levels. Making healthy food choices more often than not as well as consuming moderate portions is also important in the prevention of diabetes due to excessive body weight. When making meal choices, choose foods that are low in sugar, high in fiber and those that take time to digest. Protein for example takes longer to digest than carbohydrates. Balance you plate with some protein and “good’ carbs such as fruit and vegetables. Remember that the meat choice on your plate should be no larger than the size of your fist. Include foods of several colours on the plate and go easy on sauces and dressings. No need to avoid dessert, just limit the portion size or the frequency of consumption.
     The health risks of diabetes are very damaging but Type II is fairly simple to avoid. Choose your foods wisely and exercise.
Holly Vanderzwet, B.P.E.